My last blog, written yesterday, described how new technology can impact the patient directly. It is fine that we have these new technologies, but what do they do for the patient? This morning, while drinking my morning cup of coffee, I found myself reading one of my journals that had a direct link to yesterday’s blog. The overview of the article is written by one of my old professors from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine, Louis F. Rose, DDS, MD. Dr. Rose is a prolific writer, co-editor in chief (along with Dr. John Kois) of Compendium (a journal of continuing education). One of my favorite books written by Dr. Rose is Internal Medicine in Dentistry.
Dr. Rose wrote the following in an article related to the latest advancements in implants and it relates directly to yesterday’s blog:
“Our professional development and care we provide to our patients are inextricably connected. In this information age, we are constantly receiving messages about opportunities to expand our practices and improve patient care. However, we are not always immediately comfortable with the latest developments. Sometimes it’s a question of shifting our focus on a particular issue, stopping to review our practices and consider taking the next important step for the benefit of our patients. As the primary conduit of oral healthcare information, it is important that we present all comprehensive solutions to our patients.
In yesterday’s blog I wrote about the elderly dentist that took the impression with plaster and fractured his patient’s jaw. “We are not always comfortable with the latest developments.”
Three years ago last month I brought my staff to San Francisco to the American Dental Association annual meeting. During that meeting there was one lecture that my staff and I will never forget. Dr. David Hornbrook, a very fine dentist and educator to the dental profession, lectured to a large group of dentists the work he was doing with ceramics, dental materials and occlusion (the bite). It was an overview. He started by asking how many of the dentists in the lecture room play golf. He then asked, how many on Monday morning would prefer be on the golf course rather than seeing a patient. He said that if they would rather be somewhere else, they are not doing their patients a service. As a practicing dentist and educator, he found there is no place else he would rather be. He loves being a dentist.
That evening I took my staff out to dinner and we took the San Francisco trolley to the restaurant. As we were hanging from the side of the trolley we struck up a conversation with a dentist that, as it turns out, was at the same lecture with Dr. Hornbrook. This dentist, who practiced in Upstate New York, stated he was happy with his own techniques and felt that there was no need to change. He acknowledged to me that Dr. Hornbrook had shown many innovative ways at looking at problems that we encounter every single day, “but you have to re-invent the way you look at those problems.” I had already decided that I would travel to take a series of advanced courses with Dr. Hornbrook just from how impressed I was with his lecture. They did change the way I practice, I did have to re-invent myself, and it was the best investment for my patient’s care that I have ever done. All new materials, all new techniques, different technologies and equipment (from the Adec tooth warmer…all the way to the Hoya ConBio Erbium/Yag Laser).
I will tell you this was not always comfortable. Change can be difficult. Why not put a gold crown on a second molar? Nobody sees it. What’s wrong with making a metal crown and cementing it in with Zinc cement? It has been done for decades, right? Refer to yesterday’s blog, dentist and the plaster impression. Dr. Hornbrook pushed our small group of dentists to think differently.
Dr. Rose, “As the primary conduit of oral healthcare information, it is important that we present all comprehensive solutions to our patients.” Many years ago, I remember reading about a lawsuit in Pennsylvania where the dentist did not offer the option of a single tooth implant to his patient, but instead went ahead and cut down two perfectly good teeth and made a bridge. When the patient got together with her girlfriends, one of the friends asked why her dentist didn’t do an implant. Her girlfriend’s dentist had just completed her single tooth replacement. When the patient went back to her dentist and asked why he didn’t place an implant, he replied that he just didn’t do them. The court found, in a multimillion dollar settlement, that it was his obligation to present all available options, even the treatments that he did not perform but were, nevertheless, available. Staying current is essential.
I will finish today’s blog from the next couple of lines from Dr. Rose’s Overview:
“For example, although the benefits of dental implant-supported restorations over conventional treatments are well established, it is still not a common practice. This is a lost opportunity to provide patients with a better long-term prognosis, improved function, and superior esthetics–without compromising adjacent, nontreated teeth. These are clear benefits that a well-informed patient can easily comprehend after a case presentation.”
Isn’t it our obligation to give our patients the very latest that dentistry can provide?
Special thanks to Dr. Louis Rose for some of the foundation he gave me years ago and to Dr. David Hornbrook for catapulting me into the 21st Century.
Thanks for visiting 🙂
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